Celebrate Lunar New Year 2021 with prosperity sweets, turnip cakes, sticky rice and more

As early spring approaches, so does the first new moon of the lunar cycle and its attendant celebrations. From Vietnamese Tet to Korean Solnal to Chinese Chunjie, say hello to the Year of the Ox. Festivities run for 15 days until the next full moon. That means you have several days to run across the city to experience food that is only on menus this time of year.

For deep dives into what’s on offer, Evan Kleiman recommends reading Kristie Hang’s extensive piece in Eater LA. But it’s also an opportunity to support local Asian and South Asian restaurants through this pandemic.  

For Lunar New Year dishes in particular, Kleiman focuses on two. The first are called prosperity sweets, aka Chinese Togetherness Tray and Vietnamese Mut Tet Tray. Items on the tray are considered lucky and bring health, wealth and success.

Pearl River Deli’s Johnny Lee is offering Trays of Togetherness. It’s a platter of prosperity sweets, including lotus root chips with haw powder, Ovaltine fudge, peanut sesame brittle, and candied ginger. For savory, order their fantastic Hainan chicken or one of the char sui dishes.  

Tray of Togetherness from Pearl River Deli. Photo by Johnny Lee.

Natureland has several locations, and you can make your own combo for either a Togetherness Tray or Mut Tet from a large selection.

The second category: dishes made of turnips or radishes and glutinous rice. Kleiman is obsessed with the turnip cakes, so she was happy to learn they’re on the New Year’s food list. The savoriness of turnips is intensified when cooked, and they have a pleasing resilient texture. Look for them at Atlantic Seafood in Monterey Park, as well as many of your favorite dim sum locales. 

Also glutinous rice in many forms is eaten for luck for growth and advancement. Look for Rice Cake Soups at Korean restaurants and the Vietnamese Banh Tet, a cylinder of sticky rice wrapped in leaves and stuffed with pork and mung beans, which can be found at many Vietnamese markets and sandwich shops. But for smaller cottage versions, look to the Eater LA article by Kristie Hang.

Vietnamese Banh Chung: square-shaped sticky rice filled with pork and wrapped in banana leaves. Photo by Andrea Nguyen (CC BY 2.0). 

To browse through many Lunar New Year foods, check out Domie’s Bakery at 7609 Garvey Ave., Rosemead, CA. 

Ask about Lunar New Year offerings and order off the regular menu at:

Pearl River Deli
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